STEM academy lead­ers out in cold

In­dus­try heads yet to be en­gaged

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION&COMMENTARY - An­dré Poyser Staff Re­porter an­dre.poyser@glean­

SEV­ERAL IN­DUS­TRY lead­ers who were en­gaged to head the trans­for­ma­tion of select high schools into sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics (STEM) academies are in doubt about whether or not they still have a role in the ini­tia­tive that was in­tro­duced un­der the previous ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Queries made by The Gleaner in­di­cate that the in­dus­try lead­ers have re­ceived no of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion about the STEM academy pro­gramme since Ruel Reid took up the post of ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter eight months ago.

Reid has, how­ever, con­tin­ued to re­it­er­ate the fact that the estab­lish­ment of the STEM academies is a high-pri­or­ity item for the min­istry and, in one case, sug­gested that the schools tar­geted in the pro­gramme have al­ready been trans­formed into STEM academies.

“Sev­eral high schools have been trans­formed into STEM academies so that par­ents and stu­dents can select those schools specif­i­cally, be­cause they want to fo­cus on those ar­eas,” he said, while speak­ing at the open­ing cer­e­mony for the ExSEED work­shop held in July.

Live­stock in­dus­try leader Dr Keith Amiel, who was en­gaged to over­see the trans­for­ma­tion of Dinthill Tech­ni­cal High into a STEM academy based on live­stock and small ru­mi­nant farm­ing, told The Gleaner that he was not sure if the STEM academy pro­gramme was still on the min­istry’s agenda since the change in ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“The cur­rent Govern­ment has not em­braced it, as far as I know, so ev­ery­thing came to an end. The chief ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer as­sured me that it would have been back up and run­ning in a month and they would have a bud­get to see it through, but I have not heard any­thing since,” he said in re­sponse to ques­tions from The Gleaner.


When The Gleaner reached out to ship­ping in­dus­try leader Grant­ley Stephen­son, who was ap­pointed chair­man of the STEM Trans­for­ma­tion Com­mit­tee at St An­drew Tech­ni­cal High, he in­di­cated that he, too, has yet to re­ceive any com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the min­istry but has, in good faith, con­tin­ued to work with the school to build out their STEM pro­gramme.

Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ex­pert Hugh Cross, who was to lead the process of re­struc­tur­ing Dunoon Park Tech­ni­cal High into a STEM academy fo­cused on telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and new-me­dia tech­nolo­gies, in­di­cated that he had stopped work­ing with the school, as he was of the im­pres­sion that the pro­gramme had been scrapped.

His sep­a­ra­tion from his post as chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Univer­sal Ser­vice Fund also seems to have been a dis­in­cen­tive for him to con­tinue with the pro­gramme at Dunoon.

Amiel has ad­vo­cated for the pro­gramme to con­tinue, ar­gu­ing that STEM is very im­por­tant for Ja­maica’s fu­ture de­vel­op­ment.

“Ev­ery­thing has been on hold un­til a bud­get has been as­signed. The new min­is­ter has said all sys­tems go, but that has not hap­pened. Maybe he has asked other peo­ple to do [carry out our du­ties], and if that is the case, I have not been made aware of it,” he said.

The other STEM academy in­dus­try lead­ers are Y.P. Seaton, who was as­signed to Kingston Tech­ni­cal High; Pro­fes­sor Errol Mor­ri­son, Ja­maica Col­lege; busi­ness pro­cess­ing out­sourc­ing sec­tor leader Yoni Ep­stein, Her­bert Mor­ri­son Tech­ni­cal High; and Charles John­ston, who was to guide the de­vel­op­ment of St Mary Tech­ni­cal High into a STEM academy fo­cused on agropro­cess­ing.




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